#helmetpop in Bangkok as '7 percent' campaign launched

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Crayon Pop press conference
Crayon Pop press conference
Kevin Watkins, Director of Overseas Development Institute
Kevin Watkins, Director of Overseas Development Institute
Allison Zelkowitz, Save the Children Thailand’s Country Director and Saul Billingsley, FIA Foundation Director General
Allison Zelkowitz, Save the Children Thailand’s Country Director and Saul Billingsley, FIA Foundation Director General
Crayon Pop concert in Bangkok
Crayon Pop concert in Bangkok

A major new campaign to improve road safety for children in Thailand has been launched with a pop concert in Bangkok.

Co-funded by the FIA Foundation, and led by Save the Children and the AIP Foundation, the '7 percent' campaign aims to increase motorcycle helmet use by children from the current level of 7% to up to 60%, with an initial focus on persuading Thai authorities to include motorcycle crash helmets as part of the school uniform. More than a million Thai children ride to school as passengers on their parents motorcycles, and on average seven children are killed every day.

The campaign was officially launched on Sunday 23 November with an outdoor concert by Korean pop sensations 'CrayonPop'. The girlband performed some of their hits and encouraged young fans to support the campaign, including an initial Pledge which aims to build support for action on helmet wearing. Young fans packed into the event space at the National Arts Center, and lined the walkways of the nearby Skytrain station, to watch the performance.

Attending the events as part of a fact-finding visit was Kevin Watkins, Director of the Overseas Development Institute. Speaking at a press conference to announce the campaign, Kevin Watkins highlighted the global toll of child deaths: "I am here because I am angry. Every day, 500 children die on roads around the world. It is unacceptable that here in Thailand so many are allowed to die simply because they don't have a helmet." He spoke of meeting a bereaved father the day before who hugged the photo of his 13 year old son, killed in a motorcycle crash without a safety helmet.

“We are delighted to have the support of Crayon Pop in helping us mobilize the Thai public around this very important issue,” said Allison Zelkowitz, Save the Children Thailand’s Country Director. “Thailand has the second most dangerous roads in the world but only 7% of children are wearing motorcycle helmets. Every year over 2,600 children are killed and more than 72,000 are injured on Thailand’s roads. We want this campaign to kick start a movement that everyone can be involved with to ensure safer commutes for children."

“Children travel to and from school five days a week and this well-travelled route is where the majority of accidents take place. We will be working closely with schools and families to develop a culture of safety where parents, teachers and children understand the urgency of helmet wearing,” said AIP Thailand’s Country Director Ratanawadee Hemniti-Winther.

The FIA Foundation's Director General, Saul Billingsley, spoke at the concert, and urged young Thais to always wear a crash helmet. Commenting on the 7 Percent campaign, he said: "This is an exciting initiative, not only because it represents the first major road safety initiative by Save the Children, one of the world's foremost child development NGOs, combined with the experience and success of AIP Foundation in increasing motorcycle helmet use, but because it has potential to prevent many deaths and injuries. During this trip we have seen first-hand the human impact of road crashes in Thailand, the terrible waste it represents, and the legacy of sorrow and regret which follow in the wake of a child's death on the road. We urge new donors, philanthropic and corporate, to join us in this effort."

Participants at the launch event also promoted the global '#SaveKidsLives' campaign which is calling for better protection of children on the world's roads as a development priority. Visit www.savekidslives2015.org 

The Thai public can sign the pledge to support child motorcycle passengers wearing crash helmets via the campaign’s main website www.7-percent.org (in Thai). All the signatures will be submitted to decision makers in support of the campaign in February 2015.